- Associated Press - Friday, April 11, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Belhaven University senior Jocelyn Zhu is headed to the prestigious Juilliard School next fall for its master’s program for violinists.

She’s only 19, but the young musician from Madison graduates in May, at the end of her fifth year at Belhaven.

“I kind of took a victory lap,” she joked before adding, “this is the first year I’ve been older than the incoming freshmen.”

She entered school there at 14; count it as just another early start.

At age 3½, Jocelyn’s fingers were too tiny for the piano keyboard, but her arms were strong enough for the violin and its bow.

“She was my first child, and I home-schooled her,” her mother, Jane Zhu, said.

She wanted to add music to the mix for her daughter - “make some noise, having fun, nothing big,” she said. “That was really my intention.”

“Of course, I love music,” Jane Zhu said, and she wanted to share that lifelong enjoyment with her child, “maybe try to see if she could have some hobby.”

Around age 10 or 11, fiddle lessons with Tammy Mason gave way to classical studies with Song Xie, associate professor of music at Belhaven, violin and viola instructor, orchestra director and conductor and chamber music coach.

“She always wanted to study music and was really passionate about it,” Xie said, praising Jocelyn’s discipline and commitment to working hard to achieve, as well as her “outstanding gift in music.” Jocelyn, he said, “has all the elements, all together.

“That’s very special for her, and it’s wonderful to see that happen.” She’s grown, too, through classical festivals, camps and competitions, connecting with top-level professionals. Musical performance can be a tough, competitive world, but Jocelyn has a foundation of spiritual peace,” Xie said. “We see many kids that are basically crushed when they’re not ready for tough competition.”

She’s been a full-time musician with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra close to two years, and subbed for a couple years before then.

“I think all high school students, at one point, really want to quit, because it’s a lot of work,” Jocelyn said.

Her mom recalled a love of soccer that nearly surpassed it for a time.

“Getting past all of that, it’s just the thing that causes me the most joy. And it’s a way for me to express myself,” Jocelyn said of playing the violin. “I just feel like it’s my calling to do this.”

She’d started at Belhaven as a pre-med student and music major, but switched the focus to music in her junior year.

With acceptance to The Juilliard School, her ambition is open-ended, with the next two years helping define her career path.

“If I just keep doing what I love, things will open up.”

Juilliard had always been a top choice.

“Growing up, it’s always been a name that everyone knows as the best one in the country,” said Jocelyn, who also applied to five or six other places.

Famous classical musicians who’ve become household names, such as Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma, attended Juilliard. Its performance activities make it a dream for musical performers, Xie said.

How do you get in?

“I worked my butt off for years,” Jocelyn said, laughing.

Practicing took up a lot of time, but she’s fond, too, of sports - running, swimming and soccer.

“I tried to keep a good balance to my life.”

She got word about Juilliard last week, getting an email at 8 a.m. that she could view the decision online at 7 that night. The waiting, she said, “was horrid.” Then, the news. “I cried a little bit. I was very happy.” Xie was the first person she called.

She’ll study under Catherine Cho at Juilliard. She’s working with her teacher and is expecting a scholarship; details are being finalized, she said.

Violinist Shellie Brown, a 2012 Belhaven graduate and also a musician with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, has been accepted to Rice University, with scholarship, to study under one of the most sought-after professors of violin, Paul Kantor, Belhaven University announced. Rice only accepts about 10 percent of applicants for its violin program.

Belhaven University President Roger Parrott said, “While cheering for their success, we also applaud their strings professor, Song Xie, who has not only prepared them musically to complete at the highest levels, but also equipped them with the spiritual foundation to take on the extremely brutal competitiveness of top- level music performance and do it in a way that brings honor to the Lord.”

___

Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

blog comments powered by Disqus

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide